Yuzo Kawashima

Sog.: from the novel by Tomichiro Inoue. Scen.: Kazuhide [Ruiju] Yanagisawa. F.: Minoru Yokoyama. M.: Tadashi Nakamura. Scgf.: Akiyoshi Satani, Kimihiko Nakamura. Ass. regia: Shohei Imamura. Mus.: Takio Niki. Int.: Tatsuya Mihashi (Kan Mimurodo ‘Coney’), Yumeji Tsukioka (Wakako Kyogoku), Mie Kitahara (Yukino Nakamachi) Seizaburo Kawazu (Katsumi Kyogoku), Osamu Yukawa (Ken Hasebe) Masumi Okada (Mineo Akaishi), Toru Abe (Go Momoyama), Shiro Osaka (Santaro Mochizuki), Hisaya Morishige (voce narrante). Prod.: Nikkatsu. 35mm. D.: 117’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

This drama unfolds in the upscale Tokyo neighbourhood of Ginza, a prosperous, fashionable and somewhat westernised district since the early decades of the 20th century, and the stomping ground of the upper-class bourgeoisie. Ginza maintains this reputation today, but Kawashima captures the place in a state of flux during the fragile mid-1950s, as Japan gradually recovered from the effects of World War II and after it emerged from the postwar American Occupation. Kan Mimurodo, nicknamed ‘Coney’ and played by Kawashima’s regular star, Tatsuya Mihashi, is a florist whose job brings him into contact with Wakako (Tsukioka), an unhappily married woman who treasures a portrait of her teenage self, painted by an artist she would dearly like to meet again… This premise allows Kawashima to explore a cross-section of society at this upwardly mobile period, including entrepreneurs, artists and criminals. Kawashima himself commented: “Perhaps it can be called a fuzoku-eiga [a film depicting the custom and manners of the time], it is a film where the main goal was to document contemporary Ginza, and the story became frivolous. This time what I wanted to try my hand at was to not have the narration aim to provide psychological explanations of the characters. I thought I didn’t want to do that. When I am working on the scenario myself it always becomes like that. If I am going to use narration, then I thought that I would use it in a different, aggressive way. The narration was done by Hisaya Morishige, and it was our first time working together”. Morishige, one of the Japanese cinema’s great actors, had starred in the same year in Marital Relations (Meoto zenzai), Shiro Toyoda’s masterly account of a love affair between a geisha and the son of a wealthy family; he was to be reunited with Kawashima in two of the latter’s Toho productions. Distinguished lead actress Yumeji Tsukioka starred, also in 1955, for director and actress Kinuyo Tanaka in the latter’s The Eternal Breasts (Chibusa yo eien nare), a moving account of a poet ill with breast cancer.

Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström

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